Levelheaded experts argue that the Obama administration is not pursuing the military route with Iran. The facts seem to be on their side. The same cannot be said about certain mainstream news media, think tanks and congress as shown by Lobe Log’s “The Daily Talking Points.” But even if Obama is not interested in going to war, there is still the looming possibility—not of Israel directly attacking—but of Israel provoking Iran to the point of confrontation. If this were to happen, the U.S. would be drawn into the conflict too. While this is speculation, it’s certain that if war was to take place, the U.S. public and much of the world—constantly subjected to the demonization of Iran and hawkish commentary in the news—would have already been prepared for it. Don’t believe me? Just keep reading:
- Iran hawks should not view sanctions as a pusillanimous cop-out. Like President Obama’s failed attempt at diplomatic engagement, sanctions are an unavoidable and necessary prelude to any more forceful action to stop Ayatollah Khamenei’s nuclear ambitions.
Washington Post: I’ve been writing that congress is growing increasingly militaristic toward Iran, but major U.S. newspapers seem to be way ahead of them. Hawkish op-eds dominate the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the New York Times, among others. This week the Post criticized the Obama administration’s latest sanctions on Iran as “half-steps” because Obama did not make moves which some Iranian officials have called acts of war – blocking Iran’s exports and sanctioning its central bank. The Post goes on to congratulate congress for being “ahead of Mr. Obama” by pushing for more punitive measures which may come into play as early as December. In this piece the editorial board also claims to care what “Some European officials” think, citing them to back up the argument that engagement shouldn’t be pursued. The article concludes:
- By now it should be obvious that only regime change will stop the Iranian nuclear program. That means, at a minimum, the departure of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has repeatedly blocked efforts by other Iranian leaders to talk to the West. Sanctions that stop Iran from exporting oil and importing gasoline could deal a decisive blow to his dictatorship, which already faced an Arab Spring-like popular revolt two years ago. By holding back on such measures, the Obama administration merely makes it more likely that drastic action, such as a military attack, eventually will be taken by Israel, or forced on the United States.
Wall Street Journal: In October, Jamsheed K. Choksy, a professor at Indiana University, argued with his wife that while threats of military action should not cease, “War is not always the best solution.” A little over a month later Choksy claims that the U.S. should facilitate regime change in Iran through a bombing campaign which will be welcomed by grateful Iranians who will use the opportunity to overthrow their government:
- The real goal of air strikes should be not only to target Iran’s nuclear facilities but to cripple the ayatollahs’ ability to protect themselves from popular overthrow.
Regime change remains the best option for defusing the ayatollahs’ nuclear threat, and it can best be achieved by the Iranian people themselves. Disabling the theocracy’s machinery of repression would leave it vulnerable to popular revolt. Through such decisive actions, the U.S. and its allies could help Iranians bring the populist uprising of 2009 to a fitting culmination.
Anyone who is familiar with Iranian society and internal politics from the inside would take serious issue with this militaristic argument which incorporates for-the-people rhetoric. Firstly, while it’s true that much of the Iranian population deeply resents the government, the extremity of that resentment varies considerably. There is not enough evidence to suggest that Iranians would welcome the end of their sovereignty simply because they don’t like their government. Purely based on my own and others’ journalistic experience inside the country, there is actually more evidence to support the claim that Iranians would resist their occupiers.
Secondly, it’s difficult to gauge an exact number, but most Iran analysts seem to agree that while the regime is deeply unpopular, the support it does have is significant and entrenched. The idea that air strikes could somehow wipe out the million+ IRGC elements and their supporters is just Choksy’s wishful thinking to put it politely. As shown in Let the Swords Encircle Me by Scott Peterson who has visited Iran more than 30 times, the Islamic Republic’s fervent supporters will fight to the death to keep their revolution alive. In fact, many invite the opportunity. Moreover, Choksy’s argument completely glosses over the serious blowback the U.S. would invite by attempting to implement regime change in Iran (not just once, but twice!) from Iranians and other Muslim populations, which despite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s declining support, still support the ideals of the Iranian revolution.
There is a reason why the upper echelons of the U.S. and Israel’s security establishment argue against attacking Iran—the costs by far outweigh the benefits. That will remain the case no matter how pro-war agitators paint things.